The women’s liberation movement and the second wave of feminism, or what is otherwise referred to as “the largest social movement in the history of the United State” (Baxandall, 705), occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. Now regarded as modern feminism, this movement most often consisted of achieving, self- confident women, often including groups of college-educated young students. Though such patterns hold true, the types of women involved in this call for change branched across ethnicities, family backgrounds, employment, and education. These women gathered together and fought against gender discrimination, rape, abuse, and in equality throughout all aspects of life.
Support for upholding domestic roles and the overall subordination of women was emphasized after World War II, when the Cold War seemed to threaten familial stability and social order. American culture began to encourage political and gender conformity, but to the surprise of many, not all women would agree to such restrictions. Women who once held high paying industrial jobs while men were off at war refused to revert back to domesticated roles upon their return and instead sought after jobs outside of the home, even those in which they were clearly discriminated in. Many women pulled together, joined labor unions, formed legislative committees and fought for gender equality.
Several accomplishments have been made over the decades since the second wave of feminism began. In 1973, for example, legislation was passed making abortion legal. Rape shield laws and federal guidelines against coercive sterilization have been established, and educational textbooks have been adjusted to promote gender equality and equal opportunity. Feminism is a far-reaching movement that affects us—not merely politically and professionally—but socially as well. Though many of the social changes took time to become apparent and concrete, they have nevertheless affected how women may work, behave, and have faith in equal opportunity and a brighter future. Even dress has evolved from girdles and garter belts to a more comfortable and even athletic attire. New vocabulary such as “sexist”, “Ms.” And “gender” have been brought to light, and even more importantly, so has the female voice.
Unfortunately, where there is change, there is often controversy. This movement was no exception, bringing about as much progressive change as argument. Unfortunately, the movement as a whole has been quite poorly documented and lacks much of the needed scholarly research, thus leading to widespread misinformation and poor representation by the media. False stereotypes have arisen that feminists are men-haters, looking for competition rather than equality. Conservatives often attribute divorce, out-of-wedlock childbirth, and the decline in social structure to the feminist-inspired acts of leaving domineering or abusive men. Topics such as abortion, contraception for young adults, gay rights, and women in the military are still being debated among both politicians and members of the general public today. The women’s liberation movement and the positive social change insured by the actions of feminists are beyond impactful in life around the globe today, but the fight is far from over. New controversies and debates are sure to arise, but we, as human beings, must never waiver in the quest for gender equality. We must stand together and pursue such positive change as powerfully today as it was then.
Baxandall, Rosalyn, and Linda Gordon. Dear Sisters: Dispatches From The Women’s Liberation Movement. Basic Books, 2000.
Kerber, Linda K., et al. Women’s America: Refocusing the Past. Page 705-718. Oxford University Press, 2016.
Napikoski, Linda. “What Was the Women’s Liberation Movement?” ThoughtCo, 1 Aug. 2017, http://www.thoughtco.com/womens-liberation-movement-3528926.